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August 23, 2005

Pat Robertson suggests Hugo Chávez be assassinated

From Media Matters...

From the August 22 broadcast of The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

[emphasis in Media Matters original]

The MSM as well as bloggers on the left and right have responded with name calling and denunciation of Robertson's proposal — except Venezuelan bloggers. The Devil's Excrement, Venezuela News and Views, Vcrisis, Venezuelan Politics, Juan Bimba, Afrael, Caracas Chronicles, Ana Julia Jatar all are from Venezuela, yet have not mentioned Robertson's suggestion.

The Venezuelan media also seem to be ignoring Robertson's remarks, including the state run media, under Chavez' control. Chavez has repeatedly claimed the US wants to assassinate him, yet the media outlets under his control seem to make less of the Robertson's opinions than our own MSM.

Personally I thought Robertson's remarks were inappropriate in that even if Chavez were enough of a threat to warrant consideration of such an action, the media is the wrong place for encouragement of it, especially a Christian broadcast. But another issue that has seemed to surface is what bothers me — why are people treating Pat Robertson as if he represents the Republican Party or even Christian Conservatives?

Sometimes Robertson has something to say that's worth listening to. He was one of the first, back in the seventies, warning of the religious indoctrination being perpetrated in government schools by humanists. But other times he's over the line (such as hinting that 9/11 was the fault of homosexuals). He's just a person who has his own TV show, who we know occasionally says crack-pot things.

Apparently, when Robertson sold the Family Channel to Fox, there was a clause in the contract that his program, The 700 Club continually be allowed to air. When Fox sold it to ABC, the clause seems to have been transferred. I say apparently because ABC/Disney still airs The 700 Club, and it's just hard to believe that of all the programs they could include, they would want that one. Not that it's all that bad of a show...well, okay, unless you're a fan of Robertson, the show's kinda boring, but do you really think ABC/Disney, as notoriously Liberal as they are (count how many TVPG or worse programs they air, during the day on what they still have the gall to call The Family Channel) would choose to allow Robertson three slots every Monday through Friday? So Robertson's show probably gets airtime in excess of it's actual audience numbers.

The problem I have with the hoopla is that with few exceptions, those whining about what Robertson said, never, ever quote him, unless it's on one of those occasions he says something outlandish. If he's a crackpot, then dismiss him. If he's a legitimate commentator on current events, then don't ignore him the other 99% of the time.

Yes, the real reason Robertson's comments are news is that it provide convenient fodder to associate him with Christians and Republicans and pretend his biennial eccentricities are what Christians and Republicans are like all the time. Robertson doesn't speak for Republicans nor Christians, and I've never heard him claim to. He's just a guy with a show, that occasionally says some off the wall things, and for some reason the MSM as well as many bloggers seems to think that's an oddity.

Myself, I'll reserve comment on his actual idea until the Venezuelan bloggers offer their responses. They'd be in a better place to know whether it makes sense or not.

UPDATE: Globovision (A Venezuelan news source) is now reporting that the US State Department claims Pat Robertson's comments do not represent US policy. But then whether they did or didn't, the State departments response would be exactly the same, wouldn't it?

El Universal, the State run Venezuelan media outlet, is calling Robertson's words “criminal” but then the Chavez administration also made any opposition to Chavez a criminal act, punishable by up to ten years in prison, so obviously their definition of “criminal” seems a bit self-serving.

El Universal reports...

The senior officer recalled that a set of rules in the United States "condemns and punishes, through the federal administration, such remarks," including a law on TV broadcasting that "prohibit dissemination of such messages."

Obviously he's confusing the US with the current Venezuelan government. Here we don't punish people for saying things the government disagrees with.

Ironic isn't it. Robertson says Chavez should be assassinated because he acts like Saddam Hussein. Chavez' people say Robertson should be thrown in prison for saying something they disagree with.

If anything Robertson's brought Chavez' lack of respect for human rights to the World Spotlight.

UPDATE: Vcrisis now has an interesting comment on Robertson and Chavez.

Afrael also has responded, but it's in Spanish. My Spanish is barely sufficient to grasp the overall meaning of the post, but I wouldn't dare attempt any sort of translation. The gist that I got was that while Chavez is a menace, an assassination or an attempt would create more problems than it would solve.

Coverage: Captain's Quarters, Outside the Beltway, David Sirota, Oliver Willis, TheTalentShow, Ain't No Bad Dude, This Modern World, Steve Soto, Mark Kleiman, Corrente, PoliBlogger, Pandagon, Jawa Report, What Attitude Problem, HyScience

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 23, 2005 09:36 AM

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Posted by: Alex at August 23, 2005 01:33 PM

I think Robertson's statement last night only will help to add some more fuel to Chavez's antiyanqui propaganda. His supporters will love to see a gringo calling opnely for assassination of their beloved leader. I've read here and there some confusion on who the heck is this Mr. Robertson, some think he is part of the goverment, some only view him as a crackpot. But for sure nobody is taking him seriously, the only serious thing everybody here in Venezuela is talking about is how crazy some rightist and so called "christians" are in the american public opinion arena.

Posted by: RomRod at August 23, 2005 02:02 PM

I tried to write a comment, but your system kept denying it for 'questionable content', although I didn't write anything offensive.

Posted by: RoRRo at August 23, 2005 02:20 PM

Chavez' VP stated Robertson has alot of influence at the White House. Eventually the US will have to deal with Chavez-I have read her drowns beggers. Not a real sweet pea of a guy. What Republican is not saying the same thing under their breath about him. Robertson needs to put a lid on it but like I said, what Republican is not saying the same thing under his breath.

Posted by: SherlockRWBShoes at August 23, 2005 02:40 PM

Two things when posting here. Your cache has to be clear to read the postings in the comment section and if you use multiple periods you will get a sensor message, (or any multiple symbols). Must be a spam catcher feature.

I don't suppose Castro can bomb US for his buddy. Not worried about it but China sure did pick up that tid bit of news.

Posted by: SherlockRWBShoes at August 23, 2005 02:45 PM

RoRRo, I use MT-Blacklist to handle comment spam, and it sometimes can be too picky. I know that for some reason it now thinks three periods in a row is "objectionable material". That's what usually makes it act funny.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at August 23, 2005 02:49 PM

Too crazy for me to mention when I heard it yesterday, I thought people would dismiss it, unfortunately, I can not post from work, but have mentioned it in the comments.

Miguel

The Devil's Excrement

Posted by: Miguel Octavio at August 23, 2005 03:51 PM

Wonderful post, you treat it in an even handed way. I've linked to you, but Haloscan is refusing to ping you.

Posted by: NYgirl at August 23, 2005 06:52 PM

Just a correction.
"El Universal" is not a state run media outlet, it's actually a private newspaper (though it is bound by Venezuela's brand new laws to not "insult" the government). The quote you mention actually comes directly from the mouth of the Venezuelan Vicepresident. And yes, he is a self-serving ignorant thug.

Posted by: Edgar Brown at August 24, 2005 01:11 AM

I think he actually reflects the way of thinking of many so-called "christians". He is a leader and plus he is on the media. As a leader he has the responsibility of being more consistent with his remarks. Makes no sense to be christian and call for a government to kill someone, neither death penalty in my opinion.
Also, for what I read yesterday the christian coalition has over 2 million members, coincidentially they are the main supporters of Irak's invasion. The more you go to church the more you support war (does it make any sense?? isn't religion about peace??).
I've never been been to a christian church but I have to say that religion is somehow playing a role in the politics of this country. Isn't it what the US is trying to fight against in the middle east? the exact same things they are promoting in this country?
Nothing is harming the most the image of the US around the world than the strong link of state and religion.
"Liberty is the distance between religion and state"
Thanks!

Posted by: Caribe at August 24, 2005 07:37 AM

I think he actually reflects the way of thinking of many so-called "christians".

If you mean in general, then you need to note what you think he espouses, in general, something most people know very little about since they rarely pay him any attention. If you mean in this specific instance, then you're wrong. The vast majority of Christians, as well as Americans know little about Chávez, therefore haven't much of an opinion about whether he should be killed in order to prevent further bloodshed. When George Bush (sr) ended the first Gulf War without removing Saddam Hussein, he was criticized roundly for not doing so. Now Robertson is being criticized for advocating the killing of one man to prevent the deaths of thousands.

He is a leader and plus he is on the media. As a leader he has the responsibility of being more consistent with his remarks.

A leader of what? He has a TV show and a television network. The network as far as I can tell isn't all that widely viewed, and the TV show is aired for the most part, presumably, because of contractual obligations derived from the sale of The Family Channel. How is that a leader?

You also need to explain what you mean by consistent. Consistent with his other remarks, consistent with your opinions, what?

Makes no sense to be christian and call for a government to kill someone, neither death penalty in my opinion.

Why? Jesus never said the death penalty was invalid. In fact He said that He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), and the Law required the death penalty for some crimes. Warfare is something necessary to prevent evil. How does refusing to go to war, while millions are slaughtered by a maniacal dictator become a good thing?

Also, for what I read yesterday the christian coalition has over 2 million members, coincidentially they are the main supporters of Irak's invasion. The more you go to church the more you support war (does it make any sense?? isn't religion about peace??).

Pat Robertson does not speak for the Christian Coalition. He may have founded it, but he no longer leads or represents it.

Supporting the defense of innocent people victimized by a murderous tyrant is a good thing.

I've never been been to a christian church but I have to say that religion is somehow playing a role in the politics of this country. Isn't it what the US is trying to fight against in the middle east? the exact same things they are promoting in this country?

There's a big difference between “playing a role” and “maintaining absolute power”. Christianity plays an important role in politics in America, as does Judaism, Islam and whatever other religion American citizens choose. In the Middle East, on the other hand, Islam maintains absolute control over many governments, and systematically strips people of their basic human rights.

Nothing is harming the most the image of the US around the world than the strong link of state and religion.

To those who hate religion, yes, but why should we let the rantings of bigots determine our policies?

"Liberty is the distance between religion and state"

Nothing could be further from the truth. Morality is derived from religion, and government void of morality is tyranny.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at August 24, 2005 09:18 AM

By parts because I got an error. Owoo this is getting good.

Probably you don't listen neither believe on what this guy says (congrats!), but like you said most christian (actually the average american in my opinnion) have ever heard about Venezuela or even other country besides Mexico and Canada (although 13% of the oil they consume comes from this country). If a guy like Patterson which they probably believe is some sort of "holy man" tells them something they will most likely believe it, going further if CNN keeps making remarks portraiting the venezuelan president as communist, what do you think they will think? the way the media portraits something is the way average people will think about an issue.

He is somehow a leader, not your leader for sure, neither mine, but being a former presidential candidate, former president of the christian coalitian and having a tv program makes me think that he has some followers. Am I wrong? maybe, I am not american (not US citizen, although I was born in America too). I am sure he has lots of followers in the "fly over" states.

Posted by: Caribe at August 24, 2005 12:29 PM

Second.

You are right, he may not be consistent according to my parameters. The thing is that the concept of christianity that you have seems to be very different from mine. For what I remember Christ gave his other cheek and let him be crucified by his enemies, he always praised peace and love (I think.. I might be wrong, you probably know more about the bible than me) I don't remember (per my catholic classes when I was young) him calling for a war or something, or making up stories about a ship hidden in the middle of Rome that was going to k*ll all jewish and using it as an excuse to invade Rome and take their wealth (does it sound familiar to you?).

Jesus never said that abortion or g*y marriage was wrong and still christians dissaprove it =) same thing applies to death penalty then?

I could find many quotes in the bible that would support my thoughts, but you win on this one, you have read it more for sure. In my oppinion it is nothing but lots of mitology (based on a few real episodes) and it is easily manipulated by anyone. What if you were born in Bagdad? you may now be defending Coran instead with all your heart thinking that it is the real holy book and the real religion. And still extremists use coran as an excuse to do their things. Don't you think you do the same by using the bible as a way to justify your pro-war thoughts?

Posted by: Caribe at August 24, 2005 12:32 PM

Third. (I think it was the series of dots)

"Warfare is something necessary to prevent evil."

This sounds so similar to your president's remarks. War proved to be wrong, no proffs of nuclear weapons and nobody in jail for taking this country into a war that has killed not only their citizens but many in Irak. Is anyone in jail? not even the people that "made up" the history about the uranium and all those reason for going to war. And the caos, who is going to pay for the caos?

Maniac dictators are not a good think of course. How comes the US government "coincidentially" just get rid of the maniacal dictators that are not in agreement with their policies and "coincidentially" are full of resources? Would you qualify Saudi Arabia as a tiranny? Why not getting into North Korea if they had proven to have nuclear weapons and a maniacal dictator that slaughthers people? Give me one reason please.

Pat Robertson certainly still has a big influence not only in the Christian Coalition but he is also a good friend of the president (well.. that's dangerous, we see how maleable the president can be).

"Supporting the defense of innocent people victimized by a murderous tyrant is a good thing."

It is not, but you cannot judge other countries just for what you see on the media. You can't either expect them to have your same thoughts or costumes. Women with veils on them may not mean that they are unhappy and tortured by their mens, NO! Why don't you leave that job to the united nations or an international coalition (please do not claim that the 10 countries that went to Irak are considered a "broad coalition of nations"). Did the US get into Africa when the hutus killed the other tribe in the 90's? 800,000 people died. Where was the US? don't tell me that if Bush was there they would have got in there. Where are you guys now that people is being killed in Darfur??

"In the Middle East, on the other hand, Islam maintains absolute control over many governments, and systematically strips people of their basic human rights."

yeap, we agree on this one.I could also agree on the fact that many people in this country is manipulated thru religious or moral issues to elect an administration that "systematically strips people of their basic human rights" not on US soil obviously but around the world (i.e: Guantanamo, Abu Graib just naming the ones we know). Not only that but supports governments that do this to their citizens such as the saudi government, sorry.. ALLIED I should say.

"To those who hate religion, yes, but why should we let the rantings of bigots determine our policies?"

You shouldn't let anyone determine your policies as long as your policies do not harm or have an influence in the rest of the world. Once it happens it is their concern. And using your words, why should you determine Irak, Afganistan, Venezuela or Cuba's policies?? Isn't it the same thing??

Morality is not derived from religion. You can be a moral and good person being atheist or not? If not you can ask Pat Robertson if morality derives from religion.

"government void of morality is tyranny."

That depends of what your moral values are, that are different for everyone's.

Thanks for your attention and letting me write these LONG comments on your blog. Appreciate it, also forgive my spelling and grammar, it's certainly not the best.

Posted by: Caribe at August 24, 2005 12:34 PM

I am reminded of a cautionary principle from chess: The fallacy of the last move. It is the false notion that a dominating maneuver is the same as the final move. They often are not.

The argument is, I suppose, that if a nation is going to war, then the assassination of the enemy leader is an act justified within the context of that war. Some would further argue it would be the least evil act, as it involves the killing of the least number of people. But therein is the fallacy of the last move. The assassination itself cannot be assumed to be the final act. Indeed, an assassination was one of the leading events into World War I, a particularly brutal and horrific war.

So if one is trying to morally justify assassination by the Bible, Just War Theory or the belief that an act of war would be the final move, I would suggest the act is still a killing and cannot be justified on the false notion that it would save a nation the cost of over $200 billing in treasure and many, many lives

Posted by: Robert at August 24, 2005 02:57 PM

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